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Darien Leaves No Doubt With Rout MacDonnell Sets Scoring Mark In Win Over Rams

Posted Wednesday, June 07, 2006 by Bob Greeney, Stamford Advocate
NORWALK -- Senior attackmen Cooper MacDonnell and Ashton Hotchkiss have been lighting it up with some serious offensive firepower all year for Darien High School's boys lacrosse team.

So it stood to reason that their last bit of teamwork was also a success last night at Norwalk High's Sam Testa Field.

They each of grabbed a handle of a big Gatorade bucket full of water, snuck up behind coach Jeff Brameier and soaked him with 33 seconds left in the game to celebrate yet another Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference championship for this Darien dynasty that keeps rolling along.

MacDonnell and Hotchkiss each had four goals and an assist, and superb goalie Chris Madalon earned the MVP award to lead the Blue Wave to an 11-4 victory over New Canaan in a rare two-for-one scenario.

Two prizes were at stake -- an FCIAC championship and advancement in the CIAC Class M Boys Lacrosse State Tournament.

Because the FCIAC final was postponed twice last week, conference officials arranged a format where the two rivals would play for the FCIAC title if they both won their respective games Saturday to set up a matchup in last night's quarterfinals of the state tournament.

And the Blue Wave took care of two big matters by copping their third consecutive conference crown and advancing to tomorrow's Class M semifinals at 5 p.m. at Norwalk High. They will play Joel Barlow, which advanced with a 13-8 victory over East Lyme.

"It was obvious that our kids came out and stepped it up in a big-pressure environment," Brameier said. "For us to repeat as FCIAC champions, that's always special. Getting our first reward in a great season is great. They know the real dream is (a state championship) Saturday. Because of that part, too, it was like there was double pressure on us."

Madalon and his teammates were big fans of New Canaan this past Saturday, hoping the Rams would beat Ridgefield to set up a rematch of last year's FCIAC championship that Darien won, 11-6.

"It's New Canaan, and it's the FCIAC final," Madalon said. "When they postponed it we were kind of depressed because we wanted to beat them badly. So we wanted them to beat Ridgefield."

Significant accomplishments occurred for both MacDonnell and the Darien program last night.

The Blue Wave (19-1), seeded first in both the FCIAC and state tournaments, won their won 18th straight game since a 10-8 loss to John Jay. They have won six of the last seven, and eight of the last 10 FCIAC championships. They have won 37 consecutive games against state opponents since their 8-6 to New Canaan in the 2004 state final.

MacDonnell became Darien's all-time leader in goals and points. He has 167 goals and 240 points, surpassing Charley Howe in both categories. Howe had 166 goals and 236 points.

"That's awesome," MacDonnell said. "But the thing is, I have to give credit to (2005 graduate) Kyle Hollingsworth, (fellow senior captain) Whit McCarthy and all the other attackmen who helped me. Everybody really helped me make that mark."

Hotchkiss and MacDonnell each scored a goal in the game's first minute, Chris Fetchet cut New Canaan's deficit to 3-1, then Madalon shut New Canaan out for a span of 24:34 bridging the first and fourth quarters. The Blue Wave broke it open with five goals in the third quarter to take a 9-1 lead.

They eventually extended their lead to 11-1 before Tyler DeTour ended New Canaan's scoring drought with 6:47 left in the game.

Darien's "Roanoke Connection" of Hotchkiss, Andrew MacMannis and Tim Hamernick teamed up to give Darien a 1-0 lead 12 seconds into the game.

"Andrew won the faceoff, he passed it to Tim and I scored," Hotchkiss said. "We did it right there and we had our Roanoke coaches here. We're all going to Roanoke. Hopefully that will happen a lot in the next four years."

MacDonnell made it 2-0 with an unassisted goal with 11:15 remaining in the first quarter.

Both teams were scoreless in the second quarter so Darien had a 4-1 halftime lead.

Then came that pivotal five-goal third period for Darien, culminating with the final three goals within a span of 20 seconds.

McCarthy gave Darien a 7-1 lead with 3:21 remaining in the third period. Six seconds later it was 8-1 after MacMannis picked off the faceoff and set up MacDonnell for the goal that tied MacDonnell with Howe for most career goals. Hotchkiss set Hamernick up for the goal that gave the Blue Wave a 9-1 lead with 3:01 left in the third quarter.

"When it was 4-1 I thought we were still in it," New Canaan's James Mauk said. "We just needed a goal to get some confidence and get on a run. But then they took advantage of unsettled situations. When they got into unsettled situations they finished them off and, basically, they buried us."

"Their scoring in unsettled situations and our shot selection is what did it," New Canaan coach Howard Benedict said. "We really needed more passing. When we were down 4-1, I thought we would get back in it. But when it got to 6-1, then it gets tough to come back and beat a team like Darien. They're a great team and they beat us with their speed and grit, and their faceoffs and shooting."

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